The National Day of Prayer is this Thursday, and if we are honest, our personal prayer lives are often up and down. Life is busy, and we barely have time to catch up with one another, much less take the time to connect with the Lord on a regular basis.
The author of "A Praying Life," Paul Miller, reflects on this struggle:
The glib way people talk about prayer often reinforces our cynicism [that builds when prayers go unanswered]. We end our conversations with "I'll keep you in my prayers." We have a vocabulary of "prayer speak." . . . Many who use these phrases, including us, never get around to prayer. Why? Because we don't think prayer makes much difference
Cynicism and glibness are just part of the problem. The most common frustration is the activity of praying itself. We last for about fifteen seconds, and then out of nowhere the day's to-do list pops up and our minds are off on a tangent. We catch ourselves and, by sheer force of the will, go back to praying. Before we know it, it has happened again. Instead of praying, we are doing a confused mix of wandering and worrying . . . After a few minutes we give up, saying, "I am no good at this. I might as well get some work done."
Do you identify with this? You are not the only one. Miller does go further and offers something that might help us be less frustrated and more understanding of how to begin to build a good prayer life:
A praying life feels like family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship . . . Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God.
Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God . . . like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. . . . Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another . . . Getting to know a person, God, is the center [of prayer].
What a great perspective. I hope it encourages you in your prayer life.
I invite you to join the CLS board, staff, and other members in praying for each other, our profession, and this country on Thursday. We have produced a small 2017 CLS Prayer Guide, which may help guide your thoughts.
I pray that you draw closer to the Lord though time with Him. He desires a deeper relationship with us, and prayer is a great step forward.
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